Current Affairs India - 24 December 2014

1. Central Government has announced today to present -Bharat Ratna-, India's highest civilian honour, to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and freedom fighter Madan Mohan Malaviya. The announcement was made just one day before birthday of Atal Bohari Vajpayee on 25th December which the government has already declared as 'Good Governance Day'. Prime Minister Narendra Modi made promise to award Bharat Ratna to freedom fighter and educationist Madan Mohan Malaviya during his election campaigns earlier this year.

2. The union cabinet has approved to hike Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) cap in the insurance sector to 49% from existing cap of 26% as the legislation could not be passed in the recent Parliament session. The Insurance Bill, which has been pending since 2008 in the Rajya Sabha, seeks to increase the composite foreign investment limit in insurance companies to 49% from current level of 26%.

The Union Cabinet has also approved re-promulgation of an Ordinance to facilitate e-auction of coal blocks for private companies for captive use and allot mines directly to state and central PSUs. The decision was taken as the Rajya Sabha could not take up the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill.

3. Senior IAS officer S Bhattacharya has been appointed as the chairman and managing director of PSU mining giant Coal India Limited. The post was vacant for last six months. The PESB had recommended his name for the post of chairman and managing director of Coal India last month.

S Bhattacharya, a 1985 batch IAS officer, is currently the CMD of Singareni Collieries Company (SCCL). He will take over the charge from Additional Secretary (Coal) A K Dubey who was given the additional charge as CMD of Coal India Limited from 26th June this year.

4. The Reserve Bank of India has extended the deadline to replace pre-2005 currency notes to 30th June 2015 from existing deadline of 1st January 2015.  RBI has said earlier in its notification that all notes issued prior to 2005 would be withdrawn from circulation.

5. Veteran director K. Balachander, who was admitted to a private hospital recently, passed away in Chennai yesterday. He was 84. Popularly known as K.B., he introduced many top stars in Tamil Cinema including Kamal Hassan and Rajinikanth.

His first film as a director was Neer Kumizhi which won a national award. His other films include -Arangetram-, -Aval Oru Thodarkadhai-, Rajini and Haasan-starrer -Apoorva Raagangal-, -Avargal-, -Ek Duje Ke Liye- and -Aaina- etc. He was awarded with the Dadasaheb Phalke award, highest award for Indian Cinema, for his contribution to Indian cinema.